What happens in Vegas is supposed to stay in Vegas. Well, coach Mike Scheller isn’t about to reveal how he did on the slots or at the craps table, but he will share some of his football education after a school year in Sin City.
Scheller is back guiding the Fulton Maroons, energized, older and wiser after a stint with the Durango High School Trailblazers (2,600 students).
“The district let me take a leave from my job so I could work on my Masters and coach down there,” said Scheller, accompanied by his beloved dog, Herb, in Nevada.
“I ran the scout team and I was spotting in the booth on game days. It was awesome. Every school has amazing facilities and you’re getting two and three thousand fans a game. They’re big, huge schools and it was a neat experience that I wanted to try.”
He plans to bring lots of little things to the proud Fulton football program.
“In the end, high school football is blocking and tackling. They’re a little more organized in how they run things and the coaches there had a little more sound fundamentals than a lot of us have here so I can learn a lot that way.”
The AA Maroons bowed 33-6 to the VSS Panthers in their opening exhibition game and tied the AAA host Rutland Voodoos 14-14 Friday afternoon (see game story on A22).
“We’ve got 31 kids in pads now and I think probably 18 of those kids played their first football game last Friday (versus VSS) so we’re learning,” said Scheller. “We’ve also got some kids who have played a lot of football but we’re a little bit behind schedule because we didn’t have a team last year, but we’re getting better.”
Scheller is assisted by defensive co-ordinator Lance Heron and defensive backs coach Kevin Stecyk. Athletic director Dale Olson is working with receivers and handling equipment duties.
Fulton doesn’t have a lineman over 200 pounds so will rely on team quickness for success. They appear to have solid leadership.
“Trevor Feeney at middle linebacker is a great little player and a definite leader getting us organized,” said Scheller. “Quarterback Tye Kitzman does a real good job for us. He’s a leader and a kid who loves football. Luc Mitchell, he’s been with us forever, and he’s a great character kid who we really like, and Caleb McCuaig is our receiver, free safety and our kicker. He’ll be another one of our captains most of the time.”
Highlight of the Fulton season will be a road trip which sees them battle the Mt. Baker Trojans Friday, Sept. 27 in their regular season opener and then stop in Moscow, Idaho to watch the University of Idaho Vandals play the Temple Owls of Philadelphia in NCAA Division 1 football.
Feeney, who will also get downs at fullback, likes the Fulton mind-set.
“We’ve got a great attitude out here. We love to hit hard and run the ball, pass the ball some times. Everybody’s positive with each other. We try to help with young guys as much as we can. Coaches do a good job with that. We don’t have to help them too much, but they get a general idea of what’s going on.”
Feeney believes the Maroons will be prepared for the Nov. 2 showdown with the Panthers.
“The rivalry’s pretty tough because you see those guys around town all the time so it’s tough to lose to them, but we’ll get ‘em next time for sure.”
Kitzman said the Maroons pulled together nicely in spring camp and are getting even tighter in the pre-season.
“Great attitude and lots of hustle,” said Kitzman. “We’ve got a lot of seniors so we’ve got a lot of knowledge and we’re always trying to help out the younger guys and new guys with tips.”
Kitzman is taking football seriously. He attended four summer quarterback camps, including two Jay Prepchuk sessions and one in Washington State. He returns to Vancouver for the Damon Allen Quarterback Academy in December.
“I had lots of improvement at each camp because we had NFL players and coaches come and help us with their knowledge. I think I’ve improved a lot over the summer and I’m going to keep working.”
Kitzman has strengthened his arm while learning the intricacies of throwing mechanics, footwork, reading coverage and new patterns. He was stoked to see veteran tailback/linebacker Layne Greene at practice this week.
“He’s a great asset, a great linebacker. He’s got a lot of hustle and hits hard. A big part of the team.”
Greene, who also excels at rugby, was a late cut by the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League Revelstoke Grizzlies.
The Maroons finish their pre-season Friday in Salmon Arm against the Golds.